The name ‘Kovalenko’ made an impact on the world stage again, home comforts paid off in pre-season action and two renowned Canadians swapped Lokomotiv for Avangard.
Loko won the World Junior Club Championship for the second time – and there was a familiar name among the scorers. Nikolai Kovalenko, son of the great Andrei, collected 8 (3+5) points to tie line-mate Vladislav Rybakov for the lead in his team’s scoring and earn the tournament MVP award.
Gold came in a hard-fought battle against Sweden’s HV71 as Sochi’s Shayba Arena. The Swedes led twice, but Kovalenko cancelled out the first and Kirill Slepets made it 2-2 midway through the third period. Then came the big moment: Danil Gizatullin reacted fastest on the slot and tucked away the game-winner.
Ottawa Capitals, a Canadian representative side took bronze ahead of Austria’s Red Bull. The tournament also welcomed its first ever Chinese entrant – Kunlun Red Star’s Heilongjiang junior roster.
It was a good week to host a tournament. In Latvia, Dinamo Riga won the annual Latvian Railways Cup for the first time in six years, while Metallurg claimed the Romazan Memorial Trophy on home in Magnitogorsk.
Dinamo went into the final day of its tournament relying on a slip-up from Lokomotiv, and when the Yaroslavl club needed a shoot-out to beat Dinamo Minsk, the door was open for the host. A crushing 6-1 victory over Swiss team HC Davos – Kevin Clark leading the way with a hat-trick – secured the cup for Girts Ankipans and his team.
Metallurg also needed a helping hand to win its tournament: Torpedo’s victory over Traktor meant that the Magnitka – Sibir game was a de facto gold medal game. After 40 minutes, the teams were locked a 1-1 but the third period saw Arkhip Nekolenko win it for the host. He got his first goal for the club early in the frame, then added two assists to help Magnitka to a 4-1 victory.
That was also the scoreline in the capital, where Dynamo defeated CSKA to win the Mayor of Moscow’s Cup. Finnish duo Juuso Hietanen and Miiko Koivisto both had a goal and an assist to give the Blue-and-Whites the early-season bragging rights.
The big trade news of the week involved Max Talbot and David Desharnais, two hugely experienced Canadian forwards who abruptly left Lokomotiv and moved to Avangard. Desharnais celebrated his debut for his new club with two goals in a warm-up game against Severstal at the Puchkov Memorial Trophy. A third Lokomotiv man, goalie Alexei Murygin, also joined Bob Hartley’s roster. Elsewhere, Roman Lyubimov was snapped up by Metallurg after CSKA released him from his contract earlier this month.